Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

April 1, 2007

SABRES: Buffalo’s Power Pipeline — Rochester has helped breed Sabres talent

Injuries? No problem for the Sabres, who simply call down the I-90

ROCHESTER — Toronto, again. If Michael Ryan has to see Toronto on the opposite end of the ice one more time, he might think he’s in an icy reincarnation of the Harlem Globetrotters/Washington Generals rivalry.

Just last weekend, Ryan was matching wits with the National Hockey League’s Maple Leafs, flanking two-time Olympian Chris Drury in a home-and-home battle on Canadian national TV. He played more than 15 minutes during the Sabres thrilling 5-4 comeback, one in which the locals scored four goals in nine minutes, and was often matched against the Leafs big line, which features Mats Sundin. He added nearly 14 minutes the following night in a 4-1 loss.

But this week, Ryan’s jersey was adorned with an American flag, and the Boston native was comfortably back on the ice at Blue Cross Arena, rather than HSBC. His first two games back in Rochester again came against Toronto — the American Hockey League’s Marlies instead of the Leafs — and they were just as spirited, even if Don Cherry was absent. During a second-period scrum on Friday, while former Amerks Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek were blasting the New York Islanders, Rochester’s Anthony Stewart picked up Toronto’s David Cloutier and body slammed him to the ice. Both were ejected.

Ryan later buried the winner, an insurance tally, then added an assist on an empty netter — bypassing a shot at a hat trick to setup teammate Kamil Kreps — while collecting the first star in a 5-2 Amerks win.

And while Ryan’s emergency callup to the Sabres wasn’t as memorable as others — Roy and Jason Pominville, for example, both jumped from Rochester to the Sabres starting lineup last season, playing key roles as Buffalo reached the Eastern Conference finals — the speedy winger capably fulfilled his duties, just like Clarke MacArthur, Patrick Kaleta and Mark Mancari have with the big club.

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